Having a child is one of the gifts of life that a lot of people hope to get; after all, a child can always make our day. Unfortunately, not all lives of children are perfect, and some of them fall victim to abuse. Sometimes, we encounter children every day and not know that they’re already showing signs of child abuse. If we want to help protect children and avoid cases of child abuse, we should be more aware of the signs of child abuse to watch out for, especially if you encounter children every day.
Do remember however that the tips below aren’t the only signs of child abuse you should be aware of, and if you’re extremely concerned about the status of some children in your area, you may want to consult a lawyer, a police officer, or even a psychiatrist about the telling signs of child abuse you should be aware of and what course of action you should take in order to make sure children in your area are protected from child abuse.
Physical Signs of Child Abuse
If there are any noticeable signs of child abuse you shouldn’t ignore, it’s the physical signs on a child’s body. These are warning signs that should immediately give you a heads up that there’s something wrong with a child. Try to be on the lookout for these telling signs.
- A child might be abused if they have bruising, burns, or welts that can’t be explained. This is particularly if these injuries are found on the mouth, lips, or face. Check to see if there are bruising patterns that are in the shape of things you find at home that may have been used to hit them, such as wire hangers, bite marks, hairbrushes, belts, and hands.
- Clustered burns, welts, and bruises may indicate some form of repetitive contact with an instrument or hand. If there are places on a child’s body where they don’t normally get hurt such as the thighs, back, neck, and buttocks, then you might be looking at a victim of child abuse.
- Take note of abrasions and lacerations, or tears in gum tissues, lips, and eyes as these indicate injuries on the face or even force-feeding.
- Try to take note if a child has blood in the underwear, complaints of pain in the genitalia, or trouble walking and sitting.
- If a child appears to exhibit poor hygiene, poor growth in both weight and height, or the lack of appropriate dental, medical, or psychological attention, then these might also be indications of abuse.
Emotional Signs of Child Abuse
Unfortunately, sometimes the signs of child abuse can also manifest emotionally. Children who exhibit withdrawal, appear fearful, or even show some form of extreme behavior might be abused and don’t have an outlet to share their pain.
- Children that have sudden changes of behavior such as anger, hyperactivity, aggression, and hostility might indicate some sudden change in the household as well, or a sign of a traumatic experience.
- If children begin to exhibit changes in school performance or a reluctance to go to school or even a reluctance to go home, then perhaps there might be something wrong at home that needs looking into.
- A child who shows defiant and rebellious behavior such as attempts to runaway may be experiencing child abuse. This is much more so if there are visible attempts at self harm or even suicide.
If a child has a loss of self-esteem or self-confidence and even withdrawal from socializing with others, or perhaps the opposite, where a child always seeks affection from others, then these might be indications of something wrong at home.
Signs of Abuse From Parents
Sometimes, parents themselves show that they may be abusing their children. These are also things we may need to take note of if ever we are concerned about their children.
If they show little to no concern for the child or appear to be incapable of recognising emotional or physical distress from their child, then they may be neglecting them.
- If the child often becomes the receiving end of blame, berating and belittling, then the child may be experiencing the same at home.
- If they demand quite the inappropriate standards when it comes to academic or physical performance to the point of forcefully withdrawing their children from contact with others, then this can also be a telling sign of abuse.
- If parents have conflicting, inconsistent, or unconvincing stories about how a child’s injuries have occurred, then child abuse may have happened at home.
The official website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts also has detailed guidelines on what signs to check in terms of child abuse and neglect, and numbers you should call should you find yourself in the area. Please be in touch with your own local authorities for a good course of action should you encounter these signs in your area as well.
Life is not perfect, and it has its own ups and downs for us to appreciate and conquer. However, despite life’s own share of sad moments, children help make everything feel better thanks to the ray of hope they give when they are inquisitive, curious, and creative. Some say the children we see are the hope for the future, and sometimes it can break our hearts when we see them hurt, sometimes by the people that should care for them.
The above tips could hopefully give you some warning signs of child abuse you need to watch out for in order to make sure children in your area are adequately protected. Should you encounter these signs, it’s best you contact the authorities and ask for the best course of action regarding the situation.
Irene Wall has been writing about law for more than a decade. She writes pieces on various law topics that she hopes could help the common reader with their concerns. She enjoys playing basketball with her sons during her free time.
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Also published on Medium.